Photo Credit: Rachel Avraham
Ayoob Kara (R) on the Iran-Azerbaijan border, July 7, 2021.

Israeli Druze politician Ayoob Kara (Likud), who served as Communication, Satellite, and Cyber Minister in the Netanyahu government, was on a tour of the border separating Azerbaijan from Iran this week when his bus broke down due to road demolition. Azerbaijan is struggling to improve the roads in this area which are in appalling condition after being under Armenian occupation for 30 years. This reporter was stranded for several hours with Kara in an area that’s known to be strewn with thousands of landmines left by the retreating Armenian military. We were finally rescued by Azerbaijani government and military officials.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran / Google Maps

Kara, 66, was born in Daliyat al-Karmel, a Druze town near Haifa. He played professional soccer as a defensive back for the Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv team. He later served in the Israel Defense Forces reserve and attained the rank of major. He studied Business Administration. Today, following a political career that spanned more than two decades, he lives in Daliyat al-Karmel with his wife and five children.

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Kara later told The Jewish Press: “Karabakh (a landlocked region in the South Caucasus, where the borders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Iran meet) reminds me of the Lebanon War of 1982 when I was an officer fighting against the terrorists in Lebanon. The terrorists destroyed Lebanon, and here, in Karabakh, I saw that everything was also destroyed. I felt very sad. I saw so many destroyed homes. It’s a very bad situation.”

“I hope that we manage to help Azerbaijan rebuild this area so that refugees from Azerbaijan will be able to return to their villages and cities,” Kara said. “It can be a very beautiful area, like Lebanon. Lebanon is also beautiful. But in both places, the terror makes things so bad.”

Israeli Druze politician Ayoob Kara (Likud) was stranded on the Iran-Azerbaijan border, July 7, 2021. / Rachel Avraham

According to Kara, “The road from Israel to Beirut is very similar to Karabakh. It is not formally accessible to the average driver, but there’s no other option but to use it anyway. I feel like I’m in a war zone in these areas. In Karabakh, they got nothing left. Roads must be built before anything. You can’t bring any civilians over before you finish the roads.”

“I’m going to advise the government of Azerbaijan to create something like kibbutzim and moshavim in the Karabakh area,” Kara revealed. “This way they can create an economic stronghold and rebuild city after city, village after village, together. This is how the State of Israel was built and we can give the Azerbaijanis the right technology and know-how to carry it out.”

Kara visited a joint Italian-Israeli dairy farm and cheese factory which is under construction in the Karabakh region.

“We should send over Israeli companies to help clear off the landmines,” Kara stressed, noting that Israel has much expertise in clearing off landmines in the Golan Heights that can be helpful to Azerbaijan. “We have companies in Israel that have the technology to do it. ”

‘In Karabakh, I saw that everything was destroyed,’ says Israeli Druze politician Ayoob Kara, July 7, 2021. / Rachel Avraham

Kara then stated: “We should help bring peace to the area and all neighboring countries should support a peace-building process. The preservation of human life should be a top priority. From my side, I think now is the time to say there has been enough terrorism and extremism.” He also stressed that Armenia must give over the remainder of its maps marking where landmines are buried. “We need to push different states to encourage Armenia to hand over the remainder of the landmine maps,” he said, and added, “But we do not have to wait for the maps. We can look for landmines along all the roads and villages and fix this dangerous matter.”

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Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”